Study Guide

The Leopold's Crowd in Shantaram

By Gregory David Roberts

The Leopold's Crowd

A group of misfits, exiles, foreigners, and cosmopolitan Indians make up the crowd at Leopold's café and bar, which works like a microcosm of Bombay expat society. After hours, when the tourists have gone home, Didier holds court over all of the misfits.

Didier Levy, the Godfather

A self-described French, Jewish, gay criminal, Didier is the resident cynic: "Didier Levy was only thirty-five years old, but those years were stitched to him in lumpy wads of flesh and deep lines that gave him the plump and careworn look of a much older man" (1.2.51).

He's full of sarcastic, droll observations, but deep down really does care about his friends, Lin among them. He seems to represent the foreigners who have some resources and have chosen Bombay out of convenience more than necessity.

Vikram Patel, the Sheriff

Obsessed with cowboy movies and spaghetti westerns, Vikram is a character you won't soon forget after reading his description:

"Vikram Patel was of average height and built, but average stopped just there, with those characteristics [...] His clothes were black—cowboy boots, jeans, shirt, and leather vest—and he wore a flat, black Spanish flamenco hat on his back, hanging from a leather thong at his throat. His bolo tie, dollar-coin belt, and hatband were all in silver. He looked like a hero in a spaghetti western movie, and that was, in fact, the inspiration for his style" (1.4.72).

He's a comical character (much like Prabaker, his fellow Indian… hmm), but he's also one of the links between the Leopold's gang and Khaderbhai's ring. He has done odd jobs for Khader without getting sucked completely into the life of crime, perhaps because he's grounded in his home city.

Ulla, Modena, and Maurizio

Now there's a love triangle you don't want to get entangled in. Ulla, a German woman living in Bombay, is crazy about Modena, but leaves him tied to a bed and cut to pieces after they tick off their friend Maurizio over some lost drug money. They're all pretty weak, grotesque figures, symbols of the decadence that runs rampant among the expats and exiles in Bombay.

Lettie, Kavita, and Lisa, the girls

Not to reduce the ladies to their most basic level, but it's hard not to with the treatment these girls get. Letitia, a British girl who spends her time rejecting Vikram until one day she decides to marry him; Kavita, a young, bright Indian woman that Lin sorta likes; and Lisa, his sometime fling and ex-prostitute, are all just sort of there for decoration. They aren't really dynamic characters, but seem to fill in like extras in a Bollywood film.